The Big Wash

Cats are fastidious. everybody knows that. Our feline friends spend literally hours grooming their pelts, equipped as they have been by a generous Mother Nature with the ultimate biological rasp which doubles as a comb: the tongue. Anyone who has ever witnessed a cat fully engrossed in the important act of hygienic maintenance can attest that this absorbs their concentration completely and that every spot will be inspected with meticulous care for blemishes – which are swiftly and professionally dealt with. So important is grooming to the cat that he will even employ it with success as a calming therapy, a relaxation method for those anxious moments when a feline is unsure about himself or his safety.

But Bean Sidhe, one might say, is hygienically challenged. Cursed with a gloriously lush pelt this kitten has found grooming to be a tedious chore, never finished, always waiting. Add to his furry bane the fact that said fur is partially white, and thus extremely prone to dirt, and you get the picture: a very filthy kitten at times, one who tackles his grooming duties with a kind of mad desperation and stubborn resignation. Bean Sidhe would love to have an easy wash. I guess that is why he sometimes licks me instead of an offending furry limb of his.

Observe our part-Maine Coon kitten at his dreaded daily duty. Watch how he flops down his quite substantially pelted form on any available yet comfortable surface and starts to get on with the job. Admire the tiny tongue, which on closer inspection doesn’t look so tiny at all -how can you carry that kind of gigantic wad around anyhow Ban-Ban ?? Oh yes, I see, that mouth of yours is rather barn-like as well now that you kindly point it out to the uneducated… Geeh, as if I needed to be impressed by the porcelain cutlery. That humongous rasp alone gives me the shivers.

Then our Kitten From Hell proceeds with the most serious part of his endeavour. He attacks the belly-fur. Since there is quite a lot of belly on that kitty he has his job cut out for him allright. And next follows the back, which is not to be sneezed at either. Forget grace and litheness, Bean Sidhe twists his frame into the weirdest contortions in order to reach all those spots that he wouldn’t be able to get to were he to obey mere Laws of Nature. We have always suspected cats carry this pocket spatial anomaly with them, to be used at will, that allows them to -frankly- get the tongue at the most back-wards back spot of his back. I have once seen a cat washing his neck. The nape of his neck. Really, you don’t want to know how he did it. Alas for Bannikins, he has yet to master the finer points of Art of Felyne Mystykk and so the nape of his neck is terra incognita still. When you know where he’s been all day you really really don’t want to pick him up by the scruff. Unless you like to sand-blast your hand afterwards that is.

Next on his schedule is the hind-quarters. Not that he would name them so. In his dictionary the hind-quarters are better known as “mmpffsplfrtrrspff”. Which is the sound he generally makes when his little natural rasp explores the nether regions. It doesn’t sound as awful as our late woofie’s “sgnorf sgnorf sgnorf ” used to sound for roughly the same procedure but he comes close. And honestly, this part of his daily hygienic maintenance cycle is the more delicate one. We simians rarely consider this, for we are bashful about our more intimate body-parts, but for the feline it is a matter of keeping matters clean and relatively odourless or advertising to the world (which consists for a large part of prey, and a smaller yet not so insignificant part of enemy) his presence. Thus our Kitten From Hell, ever mindful of Zorro and his dark-hearted ilk, takes special care of that area despite the almost insurmountable obstacle of one quite furry belly. Or the equally daunting task of first locating the aforementioned parts in his lush pelt and subsequently cleaning them amidst the abundance of fur. Hence the spluttering sound that he is wont to emit during this tricky procedure. It is caused by his efforts to sort out the fur with his teeth whilst giving the “ahem”-parts a thorough rinse. You have to applaud and admire his tenacity. He does this every day.

But exhaustion soon sets in, for a creature already known for his hedonistic ways a certain torturous state to be in, and so the Kitten From Hell ceases his cat-wash and settles for a nap. Hence the rather bedraggled state of his paws, which he sadly usually neglects because his other sanitary duties have so terribly weakened him – and his resolve to finish the job properly. At rare occasion Bean Sidhe has been observed giving his paws a perfunctory lick, with a disgusted look on his furry little face and a limp tongue. Alas, most of the time he just goes limp and leaves his paws be.

Don’t even mention the caudal appendage. Suffice it to tell that when I give him a brushing and start on that tail of his you can hear his protests a mile away. Perhaps he likes the way it tends to attract debris and tries to cultivate an entirely new range of life-forms ?

Picture below: Yeah, he’s diggin’. He’s diggin’ deeeeeep. Leaves you wondering why he won’t suffocate…

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All aboard !! All aboard !! The Friday Ark is embarking on yet another voyage fantastique…

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Tummy Tuesday

A Tuxedo Tummy Tuesday special !!

This is Zorro.
The usually stoic and grumpy don’t-fool-with-me gangsta-rap über-cat of the House of Chaos. Behaving like a silly kitten.
Is this a glorious tummy or what ?

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Right after a visit to the catmint patch that was.

Tummy Tuesdays can be spotted here !!

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Panther on the prowl !

Many a poem has been written in rapt fascination of, many a book has been printed full of praise and exclamations for, many a song or music piece composed that tried to emulate… the grace of the feline being in movement. Yeah, for centuries -millennia even- the human has ever been fascinated by the unearthly grace of the lithe creature that moves so purposefully menacing yet with such amazing fluidity, an animal of ultimate beauty and merciless death at the same time, that could so easily change from murderous intent to ultimate hedonistic pleasure-seeking. No wonder ancient people sought to worship cats as gods, and some do to this day still, with many a temple devoted to the poetry in motion that is the divine feline and often a human devotee trying to acquire some of the feline characteristics he so admires. Think we have stopped the worship in these “modern times” ? Why then is a beautiful woman often compared with a cat, and do we call a certain female sexy attire a cat-suit ? Why does a woman make her eyes up to look like a cat’s and why does a man covet a car named after one ?

Then there is the popularity of cats in the simian households. It’s no secret that cats are slowly surpassing the canines as most common household pets. Humans are still fascinated by the beauty of the beast and many cannot help but stare in loving wonder at their own personal little tiger in the house. We imagine we have invited a piece of the jungle into our domestic abodes, living the dangerous life don’t you know, that’s a dangerous predator and he’s spinning right here on my lap. But all we’ve really done was inviting an already independent creature to take up residence in a palace where every wish will be seen to with the swiftest dispatch and abundant luxury is guaranteed. We think we took in The Wild Jungle, the feline knows he’s moved in with the servants.

It does not matter though. What the cat gives us in return for his food and lodging is an endless show of extremely good quality. We follow his movements as he goes about his business and are enraptured by the effortless grace with which he patrols his domain. The exquisite lithe movements of those well-toned muscles turn an already ultra-agile body into a mobile masterpiece. With every step the feline takes we behold poetry in motion.
Bean Sidhe perches on top of the workshed in the Garden of Chaos. His anxious little furry face turned towards the simian denizens of the House of Chaos bespeaks of an inner anguish, punctuated by the pathetic little “merw” he emits. He looks at us, then down, then at us again, paws hesitating at the edge of the rooftop. Clearly he is in some kind of dire distress, and clearly the simians are enjoying the view. The Kitten From Hell, who usually ambles through life with supreme confidence, has vertigo – fear of heights.
With no help or mercy forthcoming from the simians the hapless kitten has no choice but to find his own way down. A questing paw slides slowly downwards, another follows while the furry body is perched on the edge of the rooftop, then a decision is made and mighty thews spring as Bean Sidhe slides downwards into a controlled crash-landing. He makes it to the ground with a resounding THUD and then ambles off towards the Kitchen of Chaos and the feeding bowls with angry tail held high in righteous indignation over the appalling lack of simian support and respect for his august person. He hates it when we roll over the floor laughing.

Zorro wakes up. It is a sight to behold really. One rarely has the opportunity to observe how a lean mean supreme killing machine springs into razor-sharp readiness from drowsy slumber in one fluid moment: his hitherto completely relaxed body somehow un-relaxes in an instant just before he opens the blazing slits of his eyes, his ears swivel with quiet efficacy, his talons un-flex for a moment during a short examination of his equipment’s readiness check-list, then slid back, his body uncoils and he stretches with the most menacing back-stretch I ever had the pleasure of seeing done by a member of the feline persuasion, and finally he stands there… poised for mayhem, ready to tackle the day and seize it by the jugular. He takes a step forwards and… bumps head-first into a chair.

Loup-Garou is exciting when he walks… the calm graceful movements belie the powerful muscles and lightning-fast reflexes underneath a glorious black pelt. He is also absolutely stunning when you observe him during his genteel repose in the nourishing sun. Seldom has a feline exhibited such grace in the simple art of lying there. Rarely has beauty taken such a simple form and purposeful poise been enacted in such splendid inactivity. But when he wakes up and groggily makes his way over to the nearest simian lap the aplomb with which he flaps down his august romp is simply earth-shattering. Claws hook into available surfaces for grip and traction, the body flops down onto the coveted spot then gently flows into the nooks and crannies it finds, and in the end the cat lies comfortably and securely -supremely indifferent to the havoc he caused- on a cringing human. You should see it to believe it I guess. Regular visitors of the House of Chaos have learned to tense with anxious anticipation when the black panther is on the prowl. His quarry is laps and his methods are torturous. Yet, can you resist his pleading eyes and pathetic “iew” ?

Picture below: Yea, I know I’m beautiful but can you help me down please ?

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Genteel disposition ?

Loup-Garou, the Ultimate Couch-Potato, the Lap-Hog, Mr. Hedonism Ultra Plus Nec I-Wont-Lift-A-Paw-If-I-Can-Help-It… has fought ! Oh yes. And there’s a picture to prove this sudden martial outburst too. This might surprise, awe and shock the masses but nevertheless ’tis true. And mighty his prowess proved to be as well, as his much-beloved sibling Zorro was to find out. True to his character Zorro didn’t run, but he wasn’t left snickering either. Poow poow Zowwo…

What caused this outburst ? What made the Über-Lay-Z Feline move more than a whisker ? Why did his normally genteel disposition explode in sudden nastiness and an impressive Feline Buzz-Saw Show ?
Why, the Catmint of course. What else ?
Oh yeah, and Zorro’s hogging behaviour that was downright fanatic and cruel to his fellow feline denizens of the House of Chaos. The fact that one moment he was rolling around in supreme bliss like a kitten and the next moment he would attack any feline stupid enough to come close to his bliss-source might have something to do with it. You might even say his usual grumpy disposition could be the underlying cause, which has been hell for his brother for the past 9 years. I wonder if he was already kicking the other while still in the womb ? He might have.

But yes, there you had the black sleepy-dopey ambling over to the source of tantalizing odours and suddenly the black and white fiend went into murder-mode. Of course Loup-Garou had to defend himself ! Yet the way he executed his -for once- perfect and swift defense had Zorro pausing for a moment, leaving just enough time for the poor wronged blackster to leave the premises with his dignity intact. The defensive action itself was a masterstroke: perched upright on his mighty hind-limbs this cat in his prime had ample opportunity to use his lethal foreclaws with devastating force and effect. Spread out widely and fully unsheathed Loup-Garou’s razor-sharp talons are a sight to behold, and for Zorro it just went a bit too fast for his liking too. Having this exceptionally well-maintained cutlery waving madly both in front of your eyes and that most sensitive cute pink nose -that is the pride and worry of every feline- could be a tad disconcerting indeed. Yet Zorro has learned from painful experience past that vicious fighting does run into the family and that when people call your being the occasional feline buzz-saw a birthright might apply to your nest-brother also. If Loup-Garou had ever displayed the grumpy demeanor that Zorro favours the House of Chaos would better have been named House of Hell, and rightly so.

Fortunately we are most lucky in that department: usually Loup-Garou is a most gentle cat, wont to excessive bouts of heavy sleeping, the occasional turbo-nap, and the general lying-about in just about any receptacle possible. As long as he lies cozy he is At Peace With The World and nothing short of a murderous sibling or a can being opened can rouse him from his well-deserved rest. This is the cat people envision when they ooh and aah over cute lovable pussies. This is the cat everybody wants to take home after visiting the House of Chaos. This is the cat who can melt the heart of even the most vexed cat-hater (if given the chance – there are people who flatly refuse to enter the House of Chaos out of cat-fear) and manages to win over a cat-lover in a matter of nano-seconds. I mean, this is the cat who trademarked the pathetic begging “iew”. He can even say “iew” with his eyes.

All of that notwithstanding, the cat amazed us all with his fierceness and uncharacteristic volcanic response to Zorro’s latest attack. It is so unlike his old placid self that we are left wondering what made that come about. Probably it’s the seductive lure of the Catmint. Probably Zorro’s recent kittenish behaviour might have befuddled the black one into thinking his beloved sibling had finally entered his dotage and that the resulting weakness might be exploited to satisfaction. It might also mean that Loup-Garou has finally -after 9 gruelling years of filial torture- decided he’s had enough and put an end to it.

At the end, the sudden explosion of unhappiness at bad treatment left Zorro a tad dazed. He’s more cautious now whenever his bro’ is around. He can rest assured that Bean Sidhe is still the jolly clown, always in for a playful romp, but when the Dark Lord approaches his ears go flatter, eyes become slits, and claws silently come out of their cozy furry nests. It pays to be vigilant in the Garden of Chaos.

Picture below: THE picture. Notice the talons, spread out like a bear’s.

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Things are hopefully more peaceful tomorrow at the Friday Ark, or you might want to have some merriment at the Carnival Of The Cats next Sunday.

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The ‘mint-hog

Looking at the market for lovely flowers to adorn the Garden of Chaos this Summer the Mistress stumbled upon an unexpected bounty… nepata faassenii… catmint ! No less than 3 lovely little plants were quickly purchased and later on set up to be planted on pride of place in the Garden of Chaos. But the planting didn’t go entirely without trouble, truth to say. I hit an obstacle.

Why does it always have to be Zorro ?
From the moment I entered the House of Chaos with my little cart full of floral goodies his furry little head perked up with mighty interest and his cute little pink nose started twitching. What kind of tantalizing odour was wafting from that box ? When I took the bags out of the cart-box he immediately zeroed in on the one containing the 3 hapless catmint plants. Bag or no bag but right there right then he decided to start rolling into the stuff. I barely had opportunity to take them out ! Next he started molesting the little innocent greenies while still in their pots, toppling them all the time, bowling them over and against each other. In his rolling frenzy he also managed to rock ‘n roll each and every other bag, even the ones with the twining plants. The huge ones. Oh dear.

I diligently dug a few holes for the ‘mints to reside in, gingerly tried to pick out one of the pots, and … got my hand scratched. Thoroughly.
Apparently somebody was under the impression that I was going to take away his bliss-source and subsequently started to panic and turned into that 4-limbed 16-taloned 4-fanged buzz-saw we have come to love and adore. “Yo hand ! Touch that plant and you’re shreds !” Yeah, it did hurt. But the culprit quickly saw his mistake and took a step back, although taking his time to admire his pawdi-and-mawdi-work. But I continued unfazed. The plants had to be planted. So, deftly the first one was taken out of his pot and with proper dispatch put into the hole. Earth was gently moved over the tiny roots, then gently patted. A paw intervened. Then a furry body. Who proceeded to trample the poor little plant ! ZORRO !! Sigh. To no avail did I raise my voice. He undulated, twisted, rolled, wiggled all over the plant, ecstasy written all over his furry face, utter bliss radiating from every hair and whisker.

This short-lived moment of feline nirvana was swiftly taken advantage of in order to plant the two remaining catmint plants. But no sooner had I gently moved the earth in place then the black-and-white miscreant decided it was time to notch up the ‘mint frenzy and go totally bonkers.
You see, Zorro tried to eat my boot.
With my foot still in it. With my leg still attached to it. He wrapped himself all around my ankle, dug in his claws and started to gnaw.
Talk about the munchies !
I mean, he was zonked out, totally crazed, absolutely so not on this world, and I have the marks on my boot to prove what he did. And do you really think he would be unconscious ?
Heh heh. Think again.

A cautious Bean Sidhe came closer, cute pink little nose twitching with the gentle lure of the tiny plants. He even went so far as to belly-over, crawling close to the ground, nose inching towards the prize. He immersed his furry face into the goody greenery and started to lose himself just a tiny little bit into the sweet caress of the catmint, but he did stay alert.
With good reason.
Next thing Zorro hissed over, snarling the kitten -who happens to be bigger than he is- into submission and then looking at him so fiercely that Ban-Ban fled towards the safety of the Kitchen of Chaos. But that drew the attention of the Black Fiend, Loup-Garou, who ambled over in order to check out the ruckus. And the alluring smell, that somehow managed to wait until that moment to insinuate itself into the black one’s nostrils, struck in full force. Loup-Garou who, after almost 9 years of enduring Zorro, should know better, quickly lost himself into the catmint’s embrace and embarked upon a voyage fantastic… only to get kicked out of it most rudely by his beloved sibling. He retreated onto the garden table, nursing his pride and his shanks.

Zorro was left with the catmint. HIS catmint. His private hoard of bliss. And just to make sure the message stuck deeply enough with the other feline denizens of the House of Chaos, he made an elaborate show of rolling his august rump and schnozzle into the stuff, wallowing in nepata nirvana, then quietly and gently zonking out at his leisure.
Who rules the Garden ?
Ah, but the ‘mint-hog of course…

Picture below:
Zorro does not at all like what he sees… what is the Lou-Lou-ster doing near HIS catmint plot ?

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The Master Of Toys and Grumpy Man have been tinkering with their fighting robots again -lightweights fortunately, only 12 kilos- and conducted several tests in the Garden of Chaos. Unfortunately they forgot that a garden has a purpose other than being a testing ground for combative machines, e.g. a refuge for flowers and plants to flourish and prosper.

Thus the following happened:

Ready for testing…
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Going… going…
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Oh no… I don’t like the direction this is going…
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AARRGGHH !! The Catmint !!!
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… … … =whimper= … … …
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Catmint squashed by 12 kilos of murderous metal…
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It survived, fortunately. And the jolly roboteers managed to trash an adjoining pot full with lovely yellow flowers and an ornamental bottle next (you can see them on the last picture, pre-trashed), next a vine I had planted in order to cover the stack of rubbish at the far end of the Garden of Chaos was damaged, and several patches of grass were torn out. The cats, wisely, had relocated when they heard the CO² canister hissing.